Driver arraigned in fatal accident

Published 12:02 am Sunday, February 7, 2010

The driver in a fatal accident last year was arraigned Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

James V. Ratliff, Jr., 41, of 48 Private Drive 4015, Chesapeake, was arraigned on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and failure to stop after an auto accident.

He pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Mike Davenport. Judge D. Scott Bowling set bond at $500,000 cash plus a $100,000 own recognizance (OR) bond and ordered Ratliff to return to court Feb. 10 for a pretrial conference.

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Ratliff was indicted in December in connection with an Oct. 9 traffic accident that took the life of Wendell Bryant, 50, of Willow Wood.

In another matter,

Christopher Myers, 18, of 98 County Road 104, Chesapeake, pleaded guilty to charges of vandalism and breaking and entering.

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Mack Anderson said while Myers has been cooperative with authorities and confessed his actions, what he did was wrong.

“He broke into a store and destroyed it. It was a senseless act of vandalism. He poured out a 55-gallon oil drum all over the floor. He poured antifreeze all over the floor. He vandalized a car in the building. He vandalized a boat in the building. He turned over filing cabinets. He’s young. He said he doesn’t know what caused him to do this.”

Myers’ attorney, Mike Gleichauf, said his client had never been in trouble before and has admitted he has a substance abuse problem.

“I feel the STAR program might do him some good,” Gleichauf said.

Bowling ordered Myers to pay restitution in an amount not to exceed $17,673. Gleichauf said Myers is contesting the amount of the damage.

“He will compensate but he feels that figure is inflated,” Gleichauf said.

Also Wednesday, William Pannell, 50, of 505 Township Road 1239, Proctorville, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence, and trafficking in crack cocaine.

Judge Charles Cooper sentenced him to a total of four years and 11 months in prison, suspended his driver’s license six months and fined him $2,500.

Pannell was one of several people arrested in June 2009 in a drug round up in the eastern end of the county.